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California heats up

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Larry Walker
According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global warming could wipe out most of the premium wine grapes in California by the close of the century.

The paper, co-written by Noah Diffenbaught, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University, said that most of Napa and Sonoma counties on California's north coast and Santa Barbara county on the Central Coast would be too warm for premium grape production by 2100. Large areas of Oregon and Washington would also be affected.

The report was based on computer projections of climate change. Growing-season temperatures have already warmed by more than 1.5 degrees between 1948 and 2002, the report said.

Andy Beckstoffer, who farms more than 2,000 acres of vines on California's north coast said he agrees that global warming is a big problem worldwide'.

Beckstoffer said it was important for growers to develop new technology to meet the challenge. He cited changes in canopy management to protect the grapes from direct sunlight as one example. We're growing better-quality grapes today whether global warming is happening or not. But that doesn't say we shouldn't be vigilant,' he said.